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In a previous (now closed) thread, the question of ownership of the area surrounding a grade crossing was posed.  In my current job, I have the opportunity to look at tax maps to determine tax numbers (we call them SBL for section, block and lot). As a railroad enthusiast, of course I am always distracted when looking for zoning and building issues and find myself checking out the LIRR ROW as shown on the maps. (The Southold station is right outside my office window, so that's another distraction...but I digress.) Interestingly, if one follows the tracks along the map, wherever, and without exception, the RR crosses the roads, the RR ROW stops, and resumes again across the roadway.

In other words, the railroad ROW is not a continuous multi-mile long strip of land, with one SBL#. It is a bunch of short strips, interrupted at every grade crossing. Each segment has its own unique SBL#.

Tax Map Inquiry (arcgis.com)

Scroll in with the mouse to get a close-up of the railroad, and you'll see what I mean. This is just offered as some food for thought. I'm not sure of how it works in other jurisdictions, but that's how it appears here. To find the exact places that I'm talking about, the railroad is evident as a really straight line, and is named simply "LONG ISLAND" not LIRR or MTA.

Also, there's a spot where the LIRR passes over State Road 25, in Mattituck. It appears that the RR bridge is owned by the State of NY, as it is part of the highway property as drawn on the map.

Last edited by Arthur P. Bloom
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The only private (farm road) crossing that I'm aware of in the Town of Southold is located at 1000-74.-4-3.2. It is an unprotected crossing. The map image shows a dirt road crossing the LIRR ROW without an interruption to the RR ROW. So, from that interpretation, we can assume that the RR owns the crossing.

Use this for your search:  1000-74.-4-3.2 (note the "dot dash" format after the 74)

here in Nebraska, the cowboy line was created as an easement only, reverting back to the land owners if the RR pulled out.  RR did purchase some land inside towns on which to construct its yards, depots and such.  Easements do not grant true ownership to RRs. Only an INTEREST in the land traversed.  However when the C&NW abandoned the line, they tried to "sell" the land back until some alert attorneys got involved.  From then on the RR still tried to get a fee for issuing a quit claim deed together with a long disclaimer of title, which of course was legally meaningless if challenged.  Another incident happened when UP abandoned the line in downtown Norfolk.  An old coal and lumber yard had leased a couple of acres for about 60 years.  They folded when the last generation of owners passed.  Notice was given to UP that the lease was terminated which was legal to do.  A couple of months  later a RR engineer, (think civil)  wrote a note to the heirs demanding that they haul in a lot of dirt to restore the historic elevation to the cite.  A request was made in reply to show us how the RR arrived at their claim of original elevation.  Never heard another word from UP.   I'm sure RRs would not try to take unearned advantage nowadays.

This set of cross-ing gates was installed on the Montour Bike trail parking lot, Western Pa.    A relatively short spur line,to the Westland Marcellous shale Gas loading yard.   Every road crossing , I think there were at least 2, maybe 3, had crossing gates.  Parking lot pictured, was one way in, and out.  IMG_4030[1]

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Last edited by Mike CT

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